Governments ignore underlying job market fractures at own peril, CAW says

March 8, 2013, 11:00 AM EST

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Canada turned out 51,000 new jobs in February and more people are actively seeking work, but governments across the country are ignoring the underlying spread of precarious work at their own peril, said CAW President Ken Lewenza.

"Putting tens of thousands of Canadians back into paid work is only worth celebrating if these jobs provide some sense of security, stability and well-being," Lewenza said following the release of Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey earlier today. 

Lewenza noted that precarious forms of work have been on the rise in Canada over the past decades, with temporary (contract) jobs far outstripping the pace of growth for permanent jobs. A recent study of job market trends in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton, conducted by the United Way and McMaster University, found that precarious work has risen by 50 per cent over the past 20 years, making up one-in-five jobs across both regions. The study also found a link between the quality of jobs and overall household well-being.

Buried deep within Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey are data that help track the rise of precarious work, but that do not typically make it into the national headlines, said Lewenza.

Comparing last month's job stats to February 2011, there has been a 9 per cent increase in temporary jobs (including contract and temporary agency jobs) - rising at three times the pace of growth for permanent jobs.

"There are cracks in the foundation of our job market," Lewenza said. "Unions, social agencies and academics are raising the flags, but it's ultimately up to government and employers - the standard-setters and job creators - to heed the call."

"If together we fail to control the spread of low-wage, unstable precarious forms of work by improving work standards and enhancing social income supports, our economy and communities will suffer in the long-run," Lewenza said.

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